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May 2024 ‘Gear’

Outdoor Swimmer Extra: Get the best of Outdoor Swimmer magazine online.

Outdoor swimming shouldn’t need much kit, if you find somewhere remote enough you don’t need to wear anything at all! But, of course, like with many sports or hobbies, there is a lot of kit we could need or might like to add to our kit bag. Some kit can be useful for safety – like a tow float – other kit can be useful for the type of swimming we want to do – like a wetsuit!

In this month’s issue we have 16 pages of gear reviews. Our team has tested swimsuits, two-pieces, jammers, trunks and shorts, wetsuits and shorties. We have worked with brands to try out the newest pieces and products so you can enter the open water season with the best kit for your swimming.

When it comes to choosing swimwear or wetsuits my best advice is to make sure that whatever you want to wear while swimming, that it is comfortable, supportive and appropriate for the type of swimming you want to do. I wear different swimsuits in winter compared to summer swims and many swimmers return to wetsuits in summer after swimming through winter in skins.

When you head to the water you should feel comfortable and confident. Anything that is uncomfortable or makes swimming harder will just impact your enjoyment when in the water. There are so many options today it is hard to know where to start, but it is also very personal. If you like the comfort, warmth and buoyancy a wetsuit offers, wear one! If you like the freedom and feel of the water, swimwear might be enough for you.

It has taken a while to find a selection of swimwear that works for me and until we worked on this issue, I still hadn’t ever worn a wetsuit I really liked. It can take time, trial and error to find your favourite swim kit, but it is out there. Look at what other swimmers wear and ask them how it feels, fits and works. Identify swimmers who have similar body shape or similar swim style and goals. Speak to brands and measure yourself before you buy. Most brands are helpful and kind when offering advice, so don’t be afraid to get in touch. Also consider how much you swim verses how much you spend, something that is a bit more in price often will last longer, or will give you better value over time. You wouldn’t scrimp on a pair of decent trainers if you were a runner, so ensure you invest in decent swimkit if you swim regularly!

Ella Foote, Editor

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  • How to maintain your outdoor swimming kit
    How not to be an “all the gear and no idea” swimmer. Simon Griffiths has your guide to maintaining your outdoor swimming kit
  • Open water swimsuits for all bodies
    Whether you’re looking for spaghetti strap training suits or more modest coverage, body positive styles or longer body lengths, bonded fabrics, Yulex or silver-lining for warmth, we have found your next swimsuit! Gear Editor Jo Tinsley reviews the best open water swimsuits for all bodies
  • It’s time to start planning your summer of swimming
    Brush up on your open water skills and plan ahead now to make the most of summer swimming season, says Simon Griffiths.
  • Wandering Ireland’s wild west
    Mountain hikes, lake swims and foot-stomping live music around every corner, Killarney’s Wander Wild Festival has something for every kind of adventurer, as Abigail Whyte discovered.
  • How I train: Ivan Puskovitch
    Ivan is an American open water swimmer who will be competing in the men’s 10km at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. He is the fifth American male in history to qualify for the Olympics in open water swimming.
  • The Fell Foodie’s berry and banana smoothie recipe
    Whizz up this simple and nutritious smoothie – ideal for post-swim adventures.
  • Wetter by design
    Rowan Clarke delves into the fascinating evolution of our swimming kit, and how these humble items can go way beyond their function and become instrumental in changing minds, attitudes and lives.
  • Don’t blame it on the weatherman
    In Matt Gaw’s new book, In All Weathers, Matt immerses himself in the elements and discovers there is more than just good or bad weather. Ella Foote meets Matt in sunshine, they swim in the rain and shelter from the wind while they chat all things meteorology.
  • Weekend swim retreat: The Roundhouse, Wye Valley
    Hide away in this romantic spa retreat in the Wye Valley, complete with a rooftop swimming pond and waterfall.
  • Best jammers, briefs and shorts for outdoor swimmers
    Whether you’re after a flexible fit for training, thermal fabric for core warmth or a lightweight hybrid short for impromptu dips, we’ve got you covered with our guide to the best jammers, briefs and shorts for outdoor swimmers.
  • “How do I prepare for a 6.5km swim in 10 weeks?”
    Swimming coach Cassie Patten answers this reader Q about how to prepare for the around-Brownsea Island swim in June – a distance of 6.5km – with very little prior swim training.
  • May in the swim community
    NOWCA and Mental Heath Swims share their latest news, including lifeguard training and an exciting new peer support venture in indoor pools.
  • Swims that shaped me: Simon Griffiths
    Outdoor Swimmer founder Simon Griffiths shares the swims that have shaped his life over the years, from his childhood swimming galas to his bout of hypothermia during his Windermere challenge
  • Laura Coffey: why I swim
    Writer Laura Coffey discovers the redemptive powers of travel, nature and cold-water swimming.
  • How to navigate challenging conditions with confidence
    Swimming in rough water needn’t be something to fear, says Paul Newsome.
  • Best spring suits for swimmers
    Shorties, long Janes, neoprene swimsuits: spring suits are a great option for when you don’t need a full suit, ideal for warmer waters or taking part in a swim run event. Read our expert reviews.
  • Outdoor swimming kit we love this spring
    Size-inclusive hiking and swimwear, protein-boosted breakfast cereal and a change robe designed with wheelchair users in mind: a round up of the ten best pieces of outdoor swimming kit we’ve tried, tested, and loved this spring.

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